A major unifying force for the Greek community in America was the church.
The first Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, the Holy Trinity of New Orleans, was founded in 1864.
Emigrants boarding small boats in Patras, Greece, on their way to the steamship that will take them to America in 1910.
(Library of Congress) After the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, Greece became part of the Ottoman Empire.
In New England, for example, they worked in textile mills.
A particularly large Greek community formed in Lowell, Massachusetts, where many Greek men worked in the mill.
In Utah and Colorado, Greeks found work in copper and coal mines. Many were victimized by padrones, labor brokers who recruited immigrants for jobs in exchange for the immigrants’ wages.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, Greek immigrants began going into business for themselves.
After the Chicago city council banned the sale of food on city streets, the immigrants turned to opening permanent establishments.
Using mainly family members for labor and requiring little startup money, the restaurant business was the first stable economic base for Greeks in America.
By 1919, one of every three restaurants in Chicago was operated by a Greek.
Significance: Although Greeks have accounted for a relatively small percentage of the total immigrants to the United States, they have formed strong ethnic communities that have kept alive their language, traditions, and religion.
Persons of Greek ancestry account for 0.4 percent of the current population of the United States.